In the five weeks between March 15 and April 18, US dollar sales of electric pasta makers grew more than five times what they were a year ago and bread makers more than quadrupled sales, according to weekly retail tracking data from global information company The NPD Group. Waffle irons, electric griddles, and rice cookers also experienced significant double-digit dollar growth in this five week period. With the exception of waffle irons, each of these traditionally carb-centric categories are seeing gains after two years of flat or declining sales.
“Whether seeking comfort food, meeting needs around hard-to-find grocery items, foods that provide leftovers, or creating new family activities to address boredom, consumers are turning to cooking appliances to help them make the most of their current living situation,” says Joe Derochowski, home industry advisor at NPD. “During this time at home consumers are finding ways to solve their new set of needs.”
These trends align with data that reveals how behaviors are being disrupted in the home. For example, for the week ending April 9, two-thirds of in-home meal and snack occasions were considered atypical by consumers compared to before the coronavirus outbreak, according to respondents to NPD’s NET COVID-19 Pantry & Food Strategy Tracker. NPD’s study shows that over 80% of households have eggs, milk/cream, butter, and flour on hand and ready to use—key ingredients for bread, waffles, pasta, and more.
“Home has become our haven and as a result, small appliance sales have continued to surge since the start of the COVID-19 crisis in the U.S.,” adds Derochowski. “Changes in consumer behaviors are driving important changes in the small appliance business, and the industry needs to think about where the focus may turn to next in order to continue to meet the needs of this new consumer.”